Journalism in the Public Interest


Podcast: What Happens to Those Losing Health Coverage Under Obamacare?


A message is seen on the computer indicating that there are too many visitors on the Affordable Care Act site to continue, as a navigator helps people shop for health insurance during a session put on by the Epilepsy Foundation Florida on Oct. 8, 2013 in Miami. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

We’re now a month in to the launch of, and the problems – both technical and political – only seem to be mounting for the federal health insurance marketplace.

In particular, the Obama administration has faced backlash for repeatedly stating that those who like their current individual health insurance plans will be able to keep them when that’s proven not to be the case. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

ProPublica’s Charlie Ornstein and Steve Engelberg return to the Storage Closet Studio to discuss the real-life winners and losers of Obamacare, what consumers can expect starting in 2014, and how this change will help redistribute the risk in individual health coverage:

“…if you put the burden on people who are sick to pay the full cost of their coverage, the system collapses under its own weight,” Ornstein says. “We don’t ask elderly people to pay the full cost of Medicare. We as a society help underwrite that. We don’t ask poor people who are disabled to pay the full cost of their health insurance. That’s why we have Medicaid. And so the idea is that up until this point the individual insurance market has been sort of crippled by insurers being able to deny people based on pre-existing conditions, insurers being able to really set benefits that once you’re in it, and if you do get sick, you realize it doesn’t provide you with much of anything.”

You can listen to this podcast – as well as our previous episode, “Why Is So Flawed?” – on iTunes and Stitcher. And for more of Ornstein’s reporting on the Affordable Care Act, read his latest posts:

I was brought up to believe that lying, even for a good purpose, is a no! no!

In a democracy, if you can not sell a program on its own merits, then even a good end does not justify the misinformation.

History has shown that tyranny after tyranny has claimed to be acting in the peoples behalf only in the end to bring calamity.

Are the people who don’t qualify for subsidies because they earn slightly more than 400% federal poverty limit winners or losers if the lowest cost bronze plan premium exceeds 8% of their earnings and they are exempt from the mandate?

Conversely, what about those who earn slightly more than 400% federal poverty limit but can afford the lowest cost bronze plan premium because it is < 8% of their earnings?

Never mind that bronze plan cost-sharing might boost costs to more than 30% of their earnings for the premium and actual care! “Personal responsibility” privatizes profits and socializes costs. How well the insurance industry plays this game!

David Wolford

Nov. 6, 2013, 4:41 p.m.

Why do you as journalist call the Affordable Care Act Obamacare?  Whether agree with the law is irrelevant.  As journalist you are supposed to report the facts not use a snide comment made by some Republican spin doctor.  For the record I am a Republican and I despise this disparaging phrase.


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